Wizard words, draft daze and Price check
Whiite Sox manager Ozzie Guillen's playing career ended when he was let go by the Rays in 2001, and he's never forgotten. But as the Sox open a four-game series at the Trop tonight, he is among those impressed with their turnaround, and the work of manager Joe Maddon.
"They built the last couple years, they did a tremendous job turning it around,'' Guillen (left) told the Daily Herald. "I was there for 1½ years, and with all the respect to the people running the club, they were running the club a little wrong. They didn't know what to do. They were bringing high-paid guys to bring fans to the park.
"They started running before they started walking. Now, I think the people running this club are doing a tremendous job.''
Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that Georgia high school shortstop Tim Beckham is pretty sure he'll be picked either first overall by the Rays or second by the Pirates in next week's draft:
Jimmy Beckham, the prospect's father, said yesterday by phone from Georgia that the family has had extensive meetings with only those teams and that his "very strong" indication is that his son will not last to No. 3.
"I've built quite a conversational relationship with the Pirates, and we feel the Pirates would not be a bad place for him," Jimmy Beckham said. "Either way, though, he'll be happy. We feel good about Tampa and Pittsburgh."
Beckham's team, Griffin High, is playing in a best-of-three series for the state championship starting Friday.
The report also states that "Tampa Bay is thought to be down to two finalists: Tim Beckham and Florida State University catcher Buster Posey. The Pirates have those two on their list, plus Vanderbilt University third baseman Pedro Alvarez and, on the fringe, two pitchers. Alvarez's stock has been falling with many scouts of late, in part because he has had a subpar postseason."
How impressive was 2007 top draft pick LHP David Price in his second start for Class A Vero Beach on Wednesday, in strking out nine over six two-hit, no-run innings? Good enough that opposing starter Pedro Martinez - yes, that Pedro Martinez, the rehabbing Mets star - raved about him:
"He's amazing, that kid. He's amazing," Martinez told mlb.com. "That kid is very mature for his time in [the pros], and very talented.
"Oh my God. God bless him and keep him healthy."
When told Price had made just one previous pro start, Martinez said: "Wow. He's a big lefty with superb talent. At that age, I don't think I was like that. He seems far superior."
Martinez was also impressed with how Price, who was in the 96-97 mph range with his fastball, approached hitters.
"That kid did a hell of a job of throwing first-pitch strikes and pounding the strike zone and jamming hitters," Martinez said. "I was watching that. He did it like a big leaguer. He had such a command. Right there, I'm challenging you. I'm going to do what I gotta do without any fear. That's the kind of talent you love to see.''